Knives, meat grinders, tweezers. Every chef has a favorite kitchen gadget, and as part of my Dish interviews with many of the Denver chefs who make culinary magic in this city, I asked them about their favorite kitchen tools.
Not surprisingly, knives are sacred (although for several different reasons), and none of our chefs, thank God, admitted to having a love affair with an egg separator. But still, some of their answers (hooks?) may surprise you:
John Moutzouris Mythos Greek Favorite kitchen tool? I have a souvlaki machine that I brought over from Greece, where my cousin is a butcher. I got the machine in the village where my father is from, so it's special to me, plus it's so much easer to make a hundred souvlakia with the machine than by hand.
Roberto Diaz Mezcal Favorite kitchen tool? The knife is the most superior kitchen tool, and you can always count on it to get the job done.
Alex Seidel Fruition and Fruition Farms Favorite kitchen tool? My knife, because I can do almost everything with it.
Michael Long Aria Favorite kitchen tool? My band saw. I like the noise it makes when ripping through bones.
Jennifer Jasinski Rioja Favorite kitchen tool? My Rosito Bisani pasta machine. It's lovely.
Elise Wiggins Panzano Favorite kitchen tool? Robot Coupe. It slices, dices, mixes and chops, which saves me a lot of time.
Robin Baron Udi's Favorite kitchen tool? My wok, for sure. Sauté, braise, steam, fry -- it does it all, and just like the best cast iron (and like us cooks, hopefully), it gets better over time.
Kurt Boucher Satchel's on 6th Favorite kitchen tool? My WÜSTHOF fish spatula is a great multi-purpose tool.
Jamey Fader Lola Favorite kitchen tool? My wife, Gail. She's the lab rat, ear, voice of reason, test case, sociological study and personal adviser all wrapped up into one lovely ball. Truly, without a great partner in crime who can keep me guessing and pushing, I'd only be half as far as I am in this journey. She may not dice and slice, but she proofs menus, listens to rants and gives brutally honest feedback every time I ask for it, and that's a "tool" that's invaluable to me.
Lon Symensma ChoLon Favorite kitchen tool? My Vita-Prep. You simply can't achieve the same textures using anything else.
Max MacKissock Squeaky Bean Favorite kitchen tool? I have a Japanese fish knife that I bought in Osaka, Japan. Its a steel-and-carbon mix and was made by a master knife-maker. It holds the most incredible edge of any knife that I've ever touched. I put it on a steel a lot, but I only have to sharpen it once a month. All of my cooks know what will happen if they touch it: I'll take off a finger.
Matt Selby Vesta Dipping Grill Favorite Kitchen Tool: It's hard to say. All I know is that I'm a knife junkie. I have chef's knives that I haven't even used.
Brandon Biederman Steuben's Favorite kitchen tool: My Cut Brooklyn knife. It stays sharp, and I can do anything I need to with it. I also just got an immersion circulator, and I've been having a lot of fun with that as of late.
Daniel Asher Root Down and Linger Favorite kitchen tool? Salt. I realize I can use this opportunity to praise the beauty of a combi-oven that costs as much as a Prius, or a hand-forged knife that was made by Samurai warriors, or the sexiness of an immersion circulator. But without properly executed salt levels, both during and after the cooking process, all that funky gadgetry is rendered useless. Salt has the amazing power to expose any kitchen, no matter how talented or well-equipped, as utterly brilliant or shockingly mediocre. It's the basic essence of flavor, and so many dishes fall short of their ultimate potential just because they're lacking -- or are overwhelmed by -- a few grains of NaCl. In my mind, it's the most powerful kitchen tool.
Jared Brant Park & Co. Favorite kitchen tool? A chinoise. It completely alters the consistency and texture of a soup, broth or sauce.
Valentino Ukjic Trattoria Stella Favorite kitchen tool: I really like my Thor water bottle, because of its resemblance to our bartender, Noah. But the pasta machine defiantly trumps my entire kitchen and non-kitchen-related tools. Heat, water and salt are the three primary elements you need to cook, and the convenience of having 35 gallons of salted, boiling water at all times is comforting - at least for me.
Zach Jones D Bar Favorite kitchen tool: My knife. Food as we know it today wouldn't exist without a good knife.
Olav Peterson Bittersweet Favorite kitchen tool: My garden. I enjoy picking chard, tomatoes and herbs and then walking back into the kitchen. Our guests know where our ingredients come from.
Jensen Cummings Row 14 Favorite kitchen tool: My $2 white plastic potato peeler. It's always in my back pocket, mainly because it's one of those tools that's compact and portable enough that I can keep it on me. It's also one of those tools that someone always seems to need but can't find...unless you come see me.
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Virgilio Urbano Virgilio's Pizzeria and Wine Bar Favorite kitchen tool? The Robot Coupe, a handy food processor that does everything and more. I could never operate my restaurant without one, and I keep a spare one on hand just in case something happens to the other one.
Mark DeNittis Il Mondo Vecchio Favorite Kitchen Tool: Meat hooks, one of which is in the plant, while the other one is in my Jeep at arm's reach. I can't live without my sausage pricker, either. Everybody needs to prick their sausage. I've got a Scimitar from Brothers Cutlery, too, that's cheap, and I can cut 250 pounds of butts with it every twelve minutes. At last but not least, my semi-flexible curved boner.
Read our first installment of the tools and gadgets that Denver chefs can't live without.